Refugees Welcome matches offers of accommodation in people’s homes with refugees who need somewhere to live. It offers people a chance to help in a very practical way by opening up their homes to make refugees welcome. The project is a bottom-up initiative and has been developed by volunteers.
We were inspired by the amazing goodwill and action during collections for the Calais Convoy and started to wonder what we could do for local refugees and asylum seekers literally on our own doorstep. We heard of the Refugees Welcome project in Germany dubbed an ‘Airbnb’ for refugees and asylum seekers and wanted to do something locally here. We reached out to the group in Berlin and Refugees Welcome NI is now live.
Refugees and asylum seekers in Northern Ireland face many challenges with regards to finding somewhere to live. For instance when an asylum seeker’s claim is refused by the Home Office and they are in process of appealing, they are evicted from National Asylum Support Service (NASS) accommodation and made destitute.
Refugees Welcome NI is a division of Refugees Welcome International which was founded in 2015 by a group of young people in Berlin who wanted to do something practical to help refugees. They have been mentoring similar projects as they are set up across Europe. We know the Refugees Welcome model and service can work here.
So far through Refugees Welcome Germany people have moved into 346 homes. Through Refugees Welcome Austria people have moved into 338 places. Refugees Welcome Greece matched 39 and Refugees Welcome Poland matched 10 persons, Refugees Welcome Spain matched 6 refugees to shared flats and Refugees Welcome Netherlands matched 6 persons, Refugees Welcome Portugal matched 6 persons and Refugees Welcome Italy matched 12 persons. Through Refugees Welcome Sweden people have moved into 45 homes, Refugees Welcome Canada/Roofs4Refugees matched 1 person.
We are non-political and believe that the host and refugee are on a par and both will gain from living and sharing with each other. We value equality and prioritise based on need rather than country of origin or religion.
Could you offer accommodation or help by joining the team?
Photo – Máirín Murray